How can nicotine pouches help you quit smoking?
And why they are better than alternatives like vaping and nicotine gum
Smoking is a huge problem worldwide. 480,000 deaths are attributed to smoking per year in the US alone, with 41,000 of these coming from second hand smoke (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, May 2020). Most of these deaths come from smoking related diseases such as cancers, heart disease, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, April 2020). Of the 250+ known carcinogens in cigarette smoke (cancer.gov), most are found in the tar, which accumulates in the lungs over time. The sad fact is, people smoke for the nicotine, but get killed by the tar. In this blog, I will explain what nicotine pouches are, their reduced risk when compared to cigarettes, why they are the best form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), how to use them, and their use amongst athletes.
What are nicotine pouches?
Nicotine pouches are small, white teabag-like pouches that fit discreetly under the lip. They are often likened to Swedish snus, being dubbed "tobacco-free snus". They are a fairly new form of nicotine replacement therapy, and although its unlikely that they will overtake cigarettes as the primary form of nicotine consumption, they can certainly make a huge difference to people's lives on an individual basis. Nicotine pouches are available in a range of strengths to comply with every ex-smokers needs, as well as countless flavours, including menthol, forrest fruits, citrus and even vanilla pepsi!
The reduced risk of nicotine pouches compared to cigarettes
A study of over 200,000 smokers from BMC medicine shows that 67% will die prematurely as a result of smoking (Washington Post, Feburary 2015). Smokers who quit before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying a smoking related death by about 90% (cdc.gov). Although there aren't many studies to show the effectiveness and risk of nicotine pouches (or nicopods), studies on snus in Sweden can be used. The sale of snus is prohibited in the EU except Sweden, where it is very popular as an alternative to smoking. Sweden has the lowest smoking rates in the EU, with only 7% of their population smoking daily. This is less than half the number for the next lowest country (the UK), with 17%, and under a fifth of that for Greece (37%) (statistica.com , 2017). You may be wondering why snus is banned in the EU. Unfortunately, the studies I am about to show you won't help you answer that question, and will leave you just as confused as I am. Snus manufacturers Swedish Match have conducted studies into the use of snus in Sweden, with the WHO publishing an article "Snus - the Swedish experience"
- there is no statistically significant association between oral cancer and snus use
- there is no association between gastric or cardiac cancer and snus use
Why nicotine pouches are the best form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
E-cigarettes (or vapes) have increased in demand over the last decade, and proved successful in helping smokers quit. However, there are still health concerns linked to vaping, even if it is much safer than smoking. A study from the University of North Carolina discovered that the two primary ingredients in e-cigarettes, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, are toxic to cells. Furthermore, E-cigarettes produce a number of dangerous chemicals, including acetaldehyde, acrolein and formaldehyde, which can cause lung and cardiovascular diseases (lung.org). Nicotine gum, such as Nicorette, is sold in many drug stores worldwide. When used properly, it can be very successful in fighting nicotine cravings. However, as it is only available in 2mg and 4mg (UK), heavy smokers are recommended to chew a piece of nicotine gum every 1-2 hours. Nicotine pouches however, come in a range of strengths from 3mg-150mg. Although 150mg is extremely high, and shouldn't be recommended to anyone, the ability to choose from a larger selection of strengths allows smokers to find the right product to combat their cravings.
How do you use nicotine pouches?
Use of nicotine pouches and snus among athletes
Many athletes use different forms of smokeless tobacco to help them relax, both before during and after events, and in their spare time.